Five years ago we were drowning in a sea of outrage over Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas’ decision to “snub” President Obama during his team’s visit to the White House. Then-Gov. Deval Patrick worried that it reflected a loss of “basic courtesy and grace.” The Boston Globe editorialized that Thomas “should have had the class to show up.” A couple of our own Herald colleagues were on his case, too; one columnist called Thomas’ decision “bratty, embarrassing and classless.”
But the New England Patriots players who months ago announced their intention to skip the traditional White House visit aren’t getting the same treatment. In fact, they’re being celebrated for blowing off President Trump, who is scheduled to honor the 2017 Super Bowl champs today.
Careful, progressives — your double standard is showing.
To be clear, the criticism here is not for the players. Their reasons for declining to meet with Trump are personal. A number of black players have said they feel unwelcome in a Trump White House, and it’s not our place to tell them to set aside those sincere feelings for a meaningless photo-op.
No, it’s simply the hypocrisy of those who would hector Thomas — but rain hosannas on absentee Patriots — that rankles.
We’ve heard the argument that Obama, presumably because of his policies and his personal conduct, was entitled to respect, and that Trump just isn’t. But hypocrisy shrouded in a veneer of respectability is still hypocrisy.
Trump is a Republican whose policies offend progressives, so players are to be praised for snubbing him. Obama was a Democrat whose policies they embraced, so to skip a meeting was to commit an unpardonable act of disrespect.
But sometimes a photo-op is just a photo-op. Whether an athlete attends or doesn’t may matter a great deal to him personally — but it should matter little to the rest of us.
— The Boston Herald,